There are many reasons to be excited for No Time To Die. For one, it’s been roughly six years since the last James Bond movie came out, and after the 18 months we’ve just had, we’re all more than ready for a bit of 007 in our lives. Plus, it’s Daniel Craig’s swan-song in the role, sure to send him out with a bang. Thirdly, there’s the director behind it all: Cary Joji Fukunaga, who has bags of style, the substance to match, and a knack for getting stellar performances out of his players. All those qualities are at play in his 2015 film Beasts Of No Nation (the very first Netflix original movie), starring Idris Elba as the leader of a troop of child soldiers. With Beasts about to join the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray, Fukunaga revisited the film in the new issue of Empire – and spoke about how the shoot in Ghana prepared him for the enormity of taking on Bond.
“You’re always trying to improve things, right? You want every shot, every scene to be living to your fullest potential. And even on Bond, I’d get there and I’d see a better version of doing this,” he says of his filmmaking process. “I became so used to just adapting on my feet in Ghana. As chaotic as it seems, it’s a better way of doing things. Why lock yourself into something, if there’s something better that you can do? On a Bond-style production, which is far more traditional – you pre-vis things, second unit goes out and shoots things, you plan weeks and months ahead of time with storyboards and all of that – that feels in a way very limiting, because you’re just imagining ahead of time what the best version of it is, and not seeing what the moment gives you.”
The flexibility and ingenuity required on Beasts Of No Nation fed into his approach for No Time To Die – even though the latter is as major as studio blockbusters gets. “Sometimes I’d go through the plan, but sometimes I’d be like, ‘I want to see if we can make this better. How about we do the camera like this instead? And move these extras this way?’ Trying to find something that is far more elegant in its execution,” he explains. “It does create chaos, but it also just gives you much more beautiful things. You’re seeing what the light of the weather of that day provides you. You’re seeing what the actors are giving you at that moment. You’re just taking advantage of every spontaneous thing that’s happening. From my end, I enjoy it. I think for other people, it might drive them crazy.”
Read Empire’s full Beasts Of No Nation interview with Cary Joji Fukunaga – talking the casting of Idris Elba, making Netflix’s first movie, being his own cinematographer and much more – in the Celebration Of Edgar Wright issue, in shops now. Order a copy online here.